- Title: Once Upon a Tome: the misadventures of a rare bookseller
- Author: Oliver Darkshire
- Year: 2023
A few months ago, this book became one of the Characters of the Day on the internet, thanks to Neil Gaiman. Upon being asked for the blurb he promised, he replied that, alas, he’d misplaced the book. The author chose to use the apology as the blurb and the internet did a collective LOL in response.
This anecdote is characteristic of the contents of the book itself, which is a series of short narratives about the author’s experiences entering and delving into the rare book selling trade. Each tale is filled with quintessentially British self-effacement and dry wit, often teetering on (but never crossing to) the side of trying too hard and ruining the scene for the reader.
The only real fault of the work is the frequent footnotes, which break up the flow of reading in order to insert often unnecessary (IMO) additional witticisms. Yes, they’re amusing, but if they’re amusing enough to include then please work them into the main text rather than pull the reader out of the narrative you’ve worked so hard to create.
All told though, this fault is relatively minor and the overall experience with the book is a positive one. It was an entertaining read, worth seeking out if you’re lowercase-b-biblically inclined.